Sports

Understanding the Bitter Rivalry Between Nationals and Orioles Fans

by Chris 'Blue Shorts' Lingebach
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Ryan Zimmerman #11 and Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals talk with Hall of Famer and former Baltimore Orioles player Cal Ripken, Jr. before the start of a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Ryan Zimmerman #11 and Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals talk with Hall of Famer and former Baltimore Orioles player Cal Ripken, Jr. before the start of a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - The Washington-Baltimore rivalry has never been greater than when both the Nationals and Orioles were in the playoffs two years ago, when the boundaries seemed to be clearly defined, and borderline fans of both finally had to choose a side once and for all.

Prior to that watershed moment, it seemed okay to call yourself a Nationals fan, the team from your actual hometown, while still rooting for the Orioles on the side.

The nuance of this longstanding is the key to understanding its longevity.

First, D.C. was without its own baseball team for 34 years. During that time, out of necessity, if D.C. residents wanted to watch live baseball, they’d have to drive up I-95 and battle through both beltways to see the Orioles. From that, many became Orioles fans.

At least until there was another in 2005, when Major League Baseball at long last moved the Expos to the nation’s capital.

Now, nine years later, those same fans don’t feel the urgency to make the 38-mile trek (the distance between Nationals Park and Oriole Park) when they want to catch nine innings, and the more time that passes, it seems more of those once-Orioles fans are okay with letting go.

Winning, which the Nats have done a lot of since 2011, also helps further establish the divide.

Even still, there are many fans who have remained loyal to the Orioles through it all.

To help further distinguish the nuance of the rivalry, here are a few excerpts of a conversation from the Junkies Friday morning, primarily between EB and longtime Junks listener/caller ‘Rich in Centreville.’

EB: I know I feel this as a Nats fan, if I tweet something positive, or a try to make some declarative statement about my Nats, I immediately get pounced by hating Orioles fans. Not all. Not all, but whenever I look, and I see, ‘Oh, this person is trolling me,’ I look — inevitably, inevitably – they’re Orioles fans. And the first in line is Rich. Centreville. Rich, watzup?

Rich: You are a former partial season ticket holder. You left us. I don’t like that.

EB: Well get over it! People get married and divorced all the time. Do you hate them? Do you hate those people?

Rich: Well no, that’s different. C’mon. That’s different.

EB: To quote the great Woody Allen, Cakes – which is embarrassing, I do that tongue-in-cheek – the heart wants what the heart wants.

Cakes: Yea, I don’t know if I’d go down that road. Not the best guy to have in your corner.

Rich: It’s just like people say on Twitter. You’re a T-R-A-D-E-R. You’re a trader.

EB: Yea, people don’t know how to spell traitor.

That part, at least, is probably true.

EB: To be honest with you, Rich, I don’t think that’s what it is for you. I’m gonna read your mind. Allow me to read your mind. What I believe it is for you, is just jealousy. It’s a simple rivalry, and for whatever reason, you don’t want to see the Nats succeed. It’s just strange.

Rich: But it’s not a rivalry, because if you look at the numbers, I think the Orioles own the Nats.

Well, own is a bit strong for a 32-29 record the Orioles’ favor.

JP: If your theory is jealousy, what is the jealousy of?

Rich: There’s no jealousy.

EB: I don’t understand it, but there is a natural rivalry that Baltimore people have with D.C. people. It’s documented.

Valdez: It is?

It may not have been documented before. It definitely is now.

The Orioles and Nats have a 4-game home and home series which begins July 7.

 

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